Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unholy Homicide, Part 2

The American Dream

Mike Tabb
Mike Tabb

Pastor Mike Tabb's sermons could make the most adamant sinner drop to his knees and beg for forgiveness.  The 42-year-old minister of the First United Methodist Church in Troup, Texas had a way with words.  When he stood behind the pulpit his voice echoed throughout the church and his knowledge of scripture made him appear as though a true disciple of Christ.  Not only was the good reverend a natural speaker, but he was also blessed with a beautiful wife and two young children. 

According to The Amarillo Globe, 35-year-old Marla Tabb was an accomplished gospel singer and an incredibly inspirational person who touched everyone she came into contact with.  Her charisma and ability to light up a room set her aside from most and she easily made friends wherever she went.  The devoutly religious couple moved to Troup in 2002, following Mike's discharge from the Navy, where he served as a chaplain at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  Not long after arrival Marla gave birth to their second child, named David, after the second king of Israel.  He was a welcome addition to the family.  His little brother, 2-year-old Jonathan was excited to finally have a sibling.  Everything appeared to be going great for the Tabbs.  They were living the American dream.

J.B. Smith, Smith County Sheriff
J.B. Smith, Smith County Sheriff

On the evening of August 5, 2002, the Smith County Sheriff's Department in Tyler received a desperate 911 from one of the Tabb's neighbors.  "This man just came in my house and said his wife is dead.  And he brought his two babies over here. ... Yes, he's the preacher at the Methodist church, Mr. Tabb."  After a brief moment of shock the dispatcher asks the caller to hand the phone over to Reverend Tabb.  With a distraught and shaky voice Tabb said, "Somebody beat her, it looks like with a baseball bat.  I mean, she's beat up bad."  This normally quiet town, which boasted a mere 1,900 residents, had just recorded its first homicide in five years.


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